Seattle refuses to release gun tax revenue

City leaders thought a new gun tax could rake in a half-million dollar windfall, but now the City of Seattle refuses to release the actual numbers.

The City of Seattle continues to refuse to disclose how much money it's making from the gun and ammunition tax.

"One can presume or suspect that the revenue is nowhere near what they projected," said Dave Workman of GUNMAG.com, who filed suit for the statistics. 

The City passed legislation in 2015 to charge gun shops $25 for every gun sale and a nickel for every round of ammunition, projecting that it would raise up to $500,000 a year for gun violence prevention programs.  It went into effect in January 2016. 

Yet, as we near the 2nd quarter of 2017, the numbers have not been released.

"You're a public agency, a municipality. You're collecting taxes. The public has a right to know what you're collecting," said Workman.

He believes, as does Sergey Solyanik, that the city is embarrassed to reveal their projections are far below expectations.

Solyanik moved his Precise Shooter store to Lynnwood from Green Lake after the law went into effect.  The Precise owner says he made the move because the tax cut into his already small margins.

"There was sales tax revenue, and they didn't get any revenue from the tax,” Solyanik said. “That's why they're not releasing the numbers. They're afraid this will come out and become public." 

Solyanik added that he's sold more guns to Seattleites in 2016 outside the city limits than he did while he was in the city in 2015. 

The city has blocked any attempt to get the revenue numbers. KING 5 tried repeated times to get revenue numbers.

“Consistent with the Public Records Act and the Seattle Municipal Code, the City will not release this tax information, even in the aggregate, while there are too few taxpayers or if there are other circumstances that would result in the disclosure of confidential tax information, such as a small number of taxpayers with a single taxpayer paying a large percentage of the aggregate figure,” Julie Moore, spokesperson for the Office of Finance, said in part in a reply. “With all returns received for 2016, this is the situation we are in.

“Tax return documents themselves are fully exempt from public disclosure. Additionally, taxpayer information is protected from disclosure per the Seattle Municipal Code, 5.55.200 ‘Public Disclosure– Confidentiality – Information sharing,’ which complies with state law, including RCW 42.56.230 (Section 4), ‘Taxpayer information is exempt from public inspection.’”

One City Hall source suggested the numbers are not close to the original $500,000 projection.

Workman says he will keep trying to get the details. 

"It's a story that we have to follow,” he said. “The city has to come clean with how much they're getting."

Copyright 2017 KING


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